Aaron shall be gathered to his people, for he shall not enter the land which I have given to the children of Israel, because you rebelled against My word at the water of Meribah. Take Aaron and Eleazar his son, and bring them up to Mount Hor. (Numbers 20:24-25)
When the people arrived at Mount Hor by the border of Edom, the time had come for Aaron to die. Jewish tradition states this occurred on the first day of the Hebrew month called Av in the 40th year of the wanderings. That would have made him about 123 years old — a ripe old age. If there was no more information given, we would assume that he simply died of old age, however, the Bible makes it clear that he was not permitted to enter Canaan because of his part in the sin of Meribah. Along with Moses, he did not sanctify God’s Name in the sight of the people.
When the time came, Aaron was taken to the mountain, along with his son Eleazar, and “stripped of his (priestly) garments.” They were then placed upon Eleazar, thus transferring the office of High Priest to his son. From the way the text reads, Aaron must have died almost immediately because only Moses and Eleazar descended from the mountain and, for the next thirty days, the entire congregation mourned the loss of Israel’s first High Priest.
It must have been a sad time — and there were more sad times to come — but even in the sadness that accompanies loss, we see the wisdom and provision of the Almighty. By that I mean, He did not take Aaron and leave the people without proper leadership; He already had His man in place. In fact, throughout the Bible we see that, before God removes one from their position of authority, He already has someone else waiting in the wings ready to step in their role in God’s Kingdom. Thus we can be confident that, no matter the circumstances, He will never leave us or forsake us. In whatever manner He deems fit, He is always with us and forever looking out for our best interests.
Blessings and Shalom,